NeoHooDoo: Art for a Forgotten Faith
Through May 24. Miami Art Museum, 101 W Flagler St., Miami; 305-375-3000; miamiartmuseum.org. Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday noon to 5 p.m.
It's impossible to imagine a better city than ours as a host for the mojo-manic exhibit currently on view at the Miami Art Museum. Co-organized by the Menil Collection and P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center and curated by Franklin Sirmans, "NeoHooDoo: Art for a Forgotten Faith" packs a potent wallop and is freighted with many of the religious beliefs of those who have migrated here from distant shores. The sprawling show corrals 50 works by 33 artists in an arresting variety of media ranging from sculpture to photography, assemblage, video, and performance. The exhibition was inspired by the African-American writer Ishmael Reed's Neo-HooDoo Manifesto, which explores the role of spirituality outside organized religion.
Adding some wit and humor to the mix is Brian Jungen, who has stacked golf bags floor to ceiling to create two colossal columns reminiscent of totem poles. He does so as a critique of the commodification of native imagery. In his Beer Cooler, Jungen — who is of mixed European and Native American ancestry — carved skulls, flames, an eagle, and a dreamcatcher, into the sides of a plastic cooler. By placing beer cans in the cooler and the cooler in a museum, Jungen has stated he is "giving alcohol back to the Europeans." "NeoHooDoo" includes a mind-jarring range of depictions of spirituality that will bring visitors back again and again to plumb its enigmatic depths.
Through May 2. Leonard Tachmes Gallery, 3930 NW Second Ave., Miami; 786-417-1292; artdealermiami.com. Thursday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and by appointment
In his later years, as he descended into madness, Venezuelan artist Armando Reverón took to wearing a loincloth and wandering around a bizarre ramshackle compound where he created life-size dolls out of burlap sacks. The dolls were his family; some say he made love to them. They were also among his most enduring, haunting pieces of art, and today they help define the legacy of one of the most enigmatic figures in Latin American art history. "Reverón's Dolls," a new photography exhibit at the Leonard Tachmes Gallery in the Design District, pays homage to the late artist and transports the spectator to the surreal realm of a forgotten world. The exhibit features 37 works by Venezuelan photographer Luis Brito, who documented the rotting remnants of Reverón's macabre muses to preserve the legacy of his compatriot, who died in 1954 after a slow decline into dementia. Brito's arresting collection of images depicts one red-wigged dummy with pomegranate-stained bee-stung lips. She wears a crystal necklace and a shiny purple halter top. The doll's pumpkin-orange organza skirt is hiked up to reveal deformed gams and putrid vaginal flaps. A bright studded ring twinkles on one of her stubby toes. She gazes at the viewer through what look like dead fish eyes. Curator Jorge Hulian has peeled back the veil on Reverón's mystifying world with a deftly curated and engaging exhibition of Brito's haunting pictures. It is not to be missed.
Through April 14. Dot Fiftyone Gallery, 51 NW 36th St., Miami; 305-573-9994; dotfiftyone.com. Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Saturday 1 to 6 p.m.
Pancho Luna is no stranger to yanking perfection from the jaws of chaos. The artist often tinkers on multiple series of works at the same time, allowing his cranial crankshaft to intuitively fire the connective rods linking disparate elements of his art.
The result of his cerebral shenanigans is on display in "Bazaar" at Dot Fiftyone Gallery, where Luna's pristine installations and pieces combine to reveal a witty and inventive mind. Any of the series on exhibit would make a powerful statement if presented alone. Together they unveil elegant and innovative constructions brimming with a reservoir of personal meaning in a jolting way. At first blush, two large sunflower-yellow works add a burst of brightness to a wall. From a distance, they appear to be a pair of abstract, almost geometric paintings. As one approaches them, they reflect the viewer's image off of their sleek, glossy surfaces. Close up, one notices they are covered with subtle German, English, Hebrew, and Arabic texts. The mixed-media-on-canvas works are part of Luna's CD Series, in which the artist creates fictitious CD covers with differing themes.